Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. H. Nicholas Hamner

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access



Throughout the First World War, world attention focused mainly on Europe's Western Front. There, the human carnage, the destruction, and the ruin created grave pressures which spread throughout the world. Though remote and detached, the continent of Africa encountered these powerful forces. In Nigeria, the focal point of this study, the conflagration impeded the colony's administrative development while it spurred its economic growth. Nor did it escape the blood bath, for Nigerian forces fought in both East and West Africa. Before the outbreak of the war, the British government had made the decision to give Nigeria a centralized colonial administration. The consequent efforts of the newly appointed Governor-General, Sir Federick Lugard, to cope with the problems generated by the war and at the same time carry out the establishment of a central authority are the chief interests of this paper.

The plan to create a central government for Nigeria was based on the unification of the "amalgamation" of the Northern and Southern Protectorates, thus replacing two separate administrations. The Northern Protectorate had been governed by a High Commissioner who operated through a system of native rule called "indirect rule." In the Southern Protectorate, a Governor had exercised more direct control making much less use of native leaders than in the North. By 1912 the Colonial Office had determined that the amalgamation of the two regions would be more efficient, would better use the Southern Protectorate's annual budget surplus.

The amalgamation plan called for the appointment of a Governor-General to serve as the central head of the colony's administration with the assistance of two Lieutenant-Governors who were to replace the High Commissioner in the Northern Protectorate and the Governor of the Southern Protectorate. On the local level in the Northern Province or former Protectorate, the system of indirect rule was to continue in effect. The key colonial officials at this lowest level were the Resident officers who would advise, guide, and sometimes assist the Fulani emirs to execute policy through their tribal structure. In effect since 1903, this system uniquely retained the tribal organization found by the British. In the former Southern Protectorate where considerable tribal disintegration had occurred, the Residents attempted to introduce indirect rule, but it failed to take root due partly to the war's influence.1 Though extremely limited, enough centralization occurred in time to unite the colony and give it a general path to follow during the war.

Begun in January, 1914, under Sir Frederick Lugard, who was appointed Governor-General to put the plan into effect, amalgamation operated for only seven months before the outbreak of World War I. The resulting hostilities had a number of consequences. The first was a sharp setback suffered by the colonial administration through the absence of many civil servants upon whom unification at first was later stimulated by the war. One of the most significant results for Nigeria, however, was the fact that certain aspects of African nationalism which developed in the period of Wilsonian idealism at the end of the war, were ultimately to lead to the overthrow of "indirect rule" by opposing the disunity on which it was based. It is the purpose of this paper to examine the plan of amalgamation for Nigeria, its successes and failures under Sir Federick Lugard, and the role of the war in this story.

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